I remember one of the first few questions Sir Barry asked the class: How much have you changed in the last ten years? At that moment, I literally couldn’t force an answer out of myself. I never liked personal questions about myself: I hate digging deep in me to find out what my favorite songs or hobbies are–as well as being asked to describe myself. So I didn’t even try.
Months after, though, I am proud to declare that I have finally found an answer. And it has a lot—no, everything—to do with new media:
The Social Networking Fanatic
I’ve been in Friendster for about eight years now. I even remember how I wound up in it. Back then, I was that little, unassuming freshman kid. It was a Saturday, and I was just in the process of discovering the thrills of the Internet. In an Internet shop not far from school, Carmel convinced me to join the website, as it was decidedly becoming the cool and popular thing in school.
Friendster quickly became a fad, and the challenge was to get as many friends as possible—not that completing the limit of 500 friends automatically makes you the most popular or the most friendly. It just makes you the quickest and most diligent at clicking that “Add Friend” button.
Upon entering college, I decided to join Multiply. It had a wider range of functions beyond adding friends and giving testimonials, which were exactly all that Friendster did. A lot of other people joined Multiply and soon after, the idea of keeping a compact and closely knit network lost its value.
A few months ago, I joined Facebook. I didn’t have a grand reason for doing so—I just didn’t want to be left behind. I simply couldn’t push away the nagging popularity of Facebook, so I chose to create an account and not actively update it. In spite of not wanting to join another online platform, I knew that I needed the website to connect to peers, former classmates, and important contacts. Nevertheless, it sort of became a fixture in my online life: the funny quizzes and interesting applications got me hooked. I stayed in Facebook simply because I had reasons for staying.
The Online Writer
I’ve been writing online for a long time. And I mean years—I remember being a prolific blogger back in third year high school. Like every high school student, I blogged about my personal life down to the most dreary detail. I blogged about the angst in my life and even got in trouble for it. I remember a classmate bringing a print-out of a blog entry I made and spreading it to my classmates. When Sir Barry said that blogs are public and could be read by anybody online—I couldn’t agree more. I learned by experience.
Online writing also became a financial foray for me. As a first year college student, I wrote articles for 50 Pesos apiece. Not only until recently did I explore the possibilities and ended up writing for a lot more than I earned for the longest time before now. I only had to explore the possibilities and open myself to what the Internet’s options.
From being a writer who thoughtlessly blogged about his emotions for all the world to see, I became a writer of many colors: a vegan, a tutorial writer, a dog lover, an insurance helper, an HR journalist, an internship hunter, and a social media blogger among many, many others. And perhaps, most importantly, an earning man.
So, who am I?
Truth be told, I didn’t even realize how long my journey with the Internet has been. I’m practically my own case study! Whether the Internet has forced me to change or simply provided me plenty of options is hard to answer. What I can conclude, though, are the alfollowing:
1. The Internet is evolving with me.
The Internet’s breakthroughs are unstoppable. From being a way of simply broadcasting information, it has become an avenue for people to collaborate and publish content. Facebook, for example, allows users to make their own quizzes and create their own applications. That’s largely different from Friendster, which only accorded users the power to accept or deny friend requests, customize their profiles a bit, and post messages. This is only one tiny example of the Internet’s marked difference from what it used to be. Now, it is an avenue where everyone can participate and discuss in.
This evolution is not something Internet users like me are afraid of. In fact, I openly accept these innovations and evolve with it. Instead of being scared of the changes yet to come, I even look at it as an opportunity to learn and, of course, earn.
2. For most companies, it’s almost always too late.
Just when I started moving out of Multiply and Friendster, companies started moving into it. This just goes to show how outdated most companies are. Whereas individuals are evolving with the Internet, most companies choose to lag behind and respond far too late for their sake.
By opting to just wait and see what happens with the Internet, these companies find themselves losing great opportunities to connect with their stakeholders. By the time they’re ready to jump in, it’s simply too late. Though observing is a valid response, companies should know better than to delay too long. The results of the observation may be groundbreaking, but they’re useless if they’re not updated.
3. The Internet defies demographics.
To some companies, I’m just another 19-year old student who studies in a state university, rides the bus to and from school, and has a number of social networking sites. The Internet, however, turns me into someone so much more. I can practically build or destroy a brand with my words. I can talk about it in any way I want to and still get heard.
It has also given me more than one option: I don’t have to stick to a website or to an employer if I don’t want to me anymore. There’s an ocean of possibilities wide open for me to discover. And if ever I get discontent with what I have, I can always stop it altogether. That’s something not even statistics can predict.